Examining Tropical Cyclone Structure and Intensification with the FLIGHT+ Dataset from 1999 to 2012
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Examining Tropical Cyclone Structure and Intensification with the FLIGHT+ Dataset from 1999 to 2012
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    Monthly Weather Review, 145(11), 4401-4421.
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  • Description:
    A comprehensive examination of tropical cyclone (TC) kinematic and thermodynamic structure in the Atlantic basin is created from the Extended Flight Level Dataset for Tropical Cyclones (FLIGHT+, version 1.1). In situ data collected at the 700-hPa flight level by NOAA WP-3D and USAF WC-130 aircraft from 1999 to 2012 are analyzed. A total of 233 azimuthal mean profiles comprising 1498 radial legs are stratified by TC intensity and 12-h intensity change. A matrix of composite structures is created for minor (category 1 and 2) and major (category 3 and above) hurricanes that are intensifying [intensity increase >= 10 kt (12 h)(-1)], steady state [intensity change between 65 kt (12 h) 21], and weakening [intensity decrease <= -10 kt (12 h)(-1)]. Additional considerations to the impacts of age on TC structure are given as well. Axisymmetric radial composites reveal that intensifying TCs have statistically significant structural differences from TCs that are steady state or weakening, but that these differences also depend on the intensity of the TC. Intensifying TCs (both minor and major hurricanes) are characterized by steep tangential wind gradients radially inward of the radius of maximum tangential wind (RMW) that contribute to a ringlike structure of vorticity and inertial stability. Tangential wind structural differences are more pronounced in the eye of minor hurricanes compared to major hurricanes. Intensifying TCs are found to have higher inner-and outer-core moisture compared to steady-state and weakening TCs. Furthermore, intensifying major hurricanes possess drier eyes compared to steady-state and weakening major hurricanes.
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